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Wisconsin's top banking regulator on recent bank failures: 'Everything (now) should be fine'

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Cheryll Olson-Collins of the Wisconsin Dept. of Financial Institutions, speaks Wednesday to the Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions.

Wisconsin's top banking and credit union regulator is trying to tamp down any fears of bank failures in Wisconsin.

Over the last week, Silicon Valley Bank in California, and Signature Bank in New York financially collapsed.

But Cheryll Olson-Collins, Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions told a legislative hearing Wednesday that after meetings with other state and federal regulators, she's convinced the California bank and Wisconsin banks have key differences.

"Silicon Valley Bank was a tech bank. Very concentrated. So you had business loans. You had people who were in the businesses. Venture capitalists. It was all very concentrated. Unique to what you had here in Wisconsin. We have community banks. They're smaller banks. They're more diversified," Olson-Collins says.

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The Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions meets Wednesday at the State Capitol in Madison.

Olson-Collins says she supports the federal government's decision to guarantee the deposits at Silicon Valley and Signature. There were some firms in Wisconsin that had links to Silicon Valley. Milwaukee-based startup accelerator Gener8tor had deposits there. Other firms had financial ties to the California bank's customers.

Olson-Collins says Wisconsin state-chartered banks and credit unions are very stable. In other regions, though, "You may see another closure. But, things are in good shape right now. Our banks have access to liquidity. Everything should be fine," she said.

NPR reported Wednesday that there are some questions about the financial health of a large bank in Switzerland. Also, that some Wall Street investors are worried that bank failures may spread.

But Republicans on the state legislative committee that held Wednesday's hearing seemed to accept Olson-Collins' reassurances. Though some grumbled that eventually, banks facing higher deposit insurance costs will eventually pass those on to consumers.

Editor's Note: A portion of the audio is from Wisconsin Eye.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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